Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 09:04 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Sri Lanka

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 14 February 2013
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Sri Lanka, 14 February 2013, available at: [accessed 23 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Key Developments

  • Government aggressively censors outlets, blocks information.

  • Critical, opposition journalists face threats, severe intimidation.

Sri Lanka remained a highly restrictive and dangerous nation for the press. Critical or opposition journalists continued to face a climate of intense intimidation. More than 20 journalists have gone into exile in the last five years, one of the highest rates in the world. Work-related murders have declined since 2009, but the slayings of nine journalists have gone unsolved over the last decade, one of the worst records of impunity in the world. The government moved aggressively to obstruct the flow of information. In July, the Ministry of Media and Information blocked efforts to introduce freedom of information legislation before parliament, saying national security would be threatened if citizens were given access to public documents. The government had barred previous right-to-information efforts, including one in 2011. In June, police raided the offices of two opposition news websites, arresting staff members and confiscating equipment. At least five other critical websites were blocked. And in March, the authorities told all news organizations they must obtain prior official approval before issuing any text or SMS news alerts that carried information about the military or police.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2012.]

Journalists in exile: 23

Facing persistent threats, numerous journalists have fled the country, with few daring to return. Some exiled journalists establish offshore news websites or continue anti-government activism.

Impunity Index ranking: 4th

Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has failed to prosecute any perpetrators in the nine murders that have taken place during his time in power, first as prime minister and then president. All of the victims reported on politically sensitive issues. CPJ's Impunity Index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population, identified Sri Lanka as having one of the world's worst records in combating deadly anti-press violence.

CPJ's 2012 Impunity Index:

1. Iraq
2. Somalia
3. Philippines
4. Sri Lanka
5. Colombia
6. Nepal
7. Afghanistan
8. Mexico
9. Russia
10. Pakistan
11. Brazil
12. India

Killed in 2012: 0

CPJ data show work-related murders have subsided in recent years. But government critics continued to receive threats concerning their work, highlighting the country's ongoing anti-press climate.

Missing: 1

Prageeth Eknelygoda, an opposition cartoonist and columnist, remained unaccounted for after vanishing in January 2010. The authorities have shown no evidence that they are working to solve the case, despite the tireless efforts of Eknelygoda's wife, Sandhya.

Where journalists go missing:

Mexico: 12
Russia: 8
Iraq: 2
Rwanda: 2
Democratic Republic of Congo: 2
Syria: 1
Sri Lanka: 1
Ukraine: 1
Kazakhstan: 1
Indonesia: 1
Ivory Coast: 1
Egypt: 1
Serbia and Montenegro: 1
Algeria: 1
Lebanon: 1

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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